Campaign Builds: You Can't Please Everyone

Dear marketers, I have some bad news. You can’t please everyone.

No matter how proud you are of an idea, there’s always someone it won’t resonate with. As both producers and users of media we understand this to be true of the audience. Everyone’s got a critic right? So why do we expect total alignment from our internal teams?

Working at an agency we see a range of targeting requests. We’re asked to reach teens to promote learning opportunities, local business owners to support new projects, and qualified employees for recruitment campaigns. We can do all that and more, but every once and a while we receive a brief that asks too much. Target everyone. Can we do it? Sure, but a campaign that seeks to speak to everyone is destined to fail.

Here’s three reasons why your campaigns can’t please everyone:

1. The Ad Building Process

It’s one thing to make a list of requests for a brief. It’s another to build successful campaigns to fulfil them. As media buyers, it’s our role to advise the best campaign structure. This includes segmenting audiences, budgets and creative to fit clear objectives. Without those parameters, you leave optimisations up to algorithms.

Don’t get me wrong, the algorithms are incredible at finding qualified users. In practice however, this likely won’t accomplish your long-term goals. By building catch-all campaigns, systems will target those most likely to take your set desired action. Even when trying to speak to multiple audiences, this will inevitably sway your message to one specific group. In short, by trying to reach everyone, you end up reaching one group anyway.

Even commercial businesses who thrive on mass audience purchases have ideal repeat customers in mind. For example, athletic brands want lifelong athlete customers, while luxury retailers seek customers of a certain wealth band. They don’t really want to reach everyone at once because it won’t lead to long-term success. With only one objective possible per campaign, you have to come with an idea of audience rankings to build successful campaigns. You can’t reach them all at once, but you can at least start with the most important groups.

2. The Era of Ad Personalisation

We live in an era of hyper personalisation. Customers expect to have their needs catered to. Personalisation is not only related to platform choice, but also the messaging on them. An ad designed to speak to everyone has to be intentionally vague, effectively speaking to no one in particular.

While mass reach is likely the design for largescale awareness campaigns, it’s another story for traffic and conversion objectives. If you want someone to take a specific action, you need to tell them why in your creative. For example, if someone has added an item to cart, remind them of their intent. If someone has signed up to receive information, meet them at their current knowledge level.

You simply can’t be enticing enough while trying to cater to everyone’s needs. Make a case for yourself by creating relevant messages for each audience, not all of them at once.

3. Individual Goals

Beyond the audience, there’s a perpetuated a myth that campaigns should please everyone within an organisation.

Now there’s absolute value in work that a team can get behind. I would in fact advocate for it. But when conflicting goals become an indefinite barrier for launch, it’s time to re-evaluate the idea of total alignment.

Individual KPI’s too often get in the way of campaign planning. The more people involved, the larger the battle over budget and messaging. Not every campaign can achieve every individual’s KPIs, but they can contribute to an overall brand narrative. Do share budgets when possible, but there has to be some degree of give and take to ensure campaigns make it out the door.

Tips to Consider

If you can’t please everyone, what can you do? I want to leave you with a few considerations that can help focus your briefs and move goals forward. When planning a campaign ask yourself:

  • What is the one overall objective of the campaign?
  • Who is this actually for? What do you want them to do with this information?
  • What does this audience want to see and hear? How are you fulfilling their need?
  • How can THIS campaign contribute to the greater efforts of others.
  • Do I need everyone to agree, or can the majority win out?

Will this list help you please everyone? Absolutely not, but that’s not the goal. It’s the audience that matters, so build campaigns that please them, even if it’s one campaign at a time.